Finding Xanadu

(This is the “X” installment of the series “Alphabet for Leaders.”)

X-ray, xenophobia, and Xanadu are the only X words that come to mind.

Xanadu – a beautiful ,idyllic place, grabs my attention.

It’s Xanadu when …

The most fulfilling (Xanadu) experience for leaders is seeing other leaders grow.

In addition, its leadership Xanadu when input and feedback is honest. The troubling truth is, leaders are usually told what others perceive the leader wants to hear. In other words, most middle managers have learned to say things that protect and advance their own careers. Some believe that organizations are filled with hoop-jumpers. For more on hoop-jumpers take a look at William Deresiewicz, West Point lecture, “Solitude and Leadership.”

Its leadership Xanadu when others are clearly aligned with organizational values, mission, and vision.

Its leadership Xanadu when organizational vitality sparks enthusiasm in customers, staff, management, and leadership teams.

Finding Xanadu …

First, the points above indicate Xanadu begins when leaders shift from “me to we.” The challenging thing about leadership is it’s about others.

Second, Xanadu is built upon leadership development. Ulrich and Smallwood believe developing leadership proficiency is central to personal and organizational success. In addition, leaders grow when they stretch current leadership skills by facing new challenges.

Third, Xanadu requires nurturing environments. If we believe growth is the result of being stretched then extending confidence in people themselves rather than their performance enables exceptional achievement.

Fourth, Xanadu emerges when occasional failure is embraced as a learning experience.

Fifth, Xanadu is created when channels for confidential feedback exist. Perhaps the only way this happens is bringing outsiders in to perform confidential 360 degree evaluations.

Sixth, Xanadu demands dogged determination to persistently communicate in terms of values that inform mission and vision. Few things are more invigorating than participating in a values based, vision driven organization.


What’s leadership Xanadu for you?

How can organizations create leadership Xanadu?

Can you think of any other “X’s” for leaders?